(ANSA) - Vatican City, October 8 - Pope Benedict XVI is set to pardon his former butler Paolo Gabriele, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Saturday for stealing confidential Church documents. Gabriele was found guilty of stealing and copying the pope's papers and leaking them to an Italian journalist, sparking the so-called VatiLeaks furore. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope had the power to pardon Gabriele and was "very likely" to use it after the sentence was announced. Prosecutors had called for a three-year sentence but the Vatican court opted to give Gabriele half that term because he had no criminal record and there were "mitigating circumstances". Gabriele had pleaded innocent to stealing documents but admitted to leaking information to the press and said he was not the only one to do so in recent years. He said that he acted out of love for the Catholic Church and thought the pontiff was being manipulated by some people around him. Some Vatican watchers have suggested that Gabriele is a scapegoat and the victim of a power struggle among cardinals. Gabriele, however, told the court last week that he had no accomplices. The leaked documents included letters to the pope and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from the Holy See's ambassador in Washington, Carlo Maria Vigano, who was deputy governor of Vatican City at the time they were written. The letters contained allegations of corruption in the management of Vatican City.
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di Giovanni Pastore